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Does McCann to New York set up a Salty, Red Sox reunion?

Nov 23, 2013, 9:35 PM EDT

Jarrod Saltalamacchia AP

It’s the catcher market that has moved the most quickly in free agency this winter, with Brian McCann becoming the first elite free agent to come to terms, agreeing to a five-year, $85 million deal with the Yankees on Saturday.

The other catcher deals:

Carlos Ruiz – Phillies (three years, $26 million)
Geovany Soto – Rangers (one year, $3.05 million)
Brayan Pena – Reds (two years, unknown salary)

The departures leave Jarrod Saltalamacchia as easily the No. 1 option left in free agency, with A.J. Pierzynski, Dioner Navarro, Kurt Suzuki, John Buck and Jose Molina next in line. The rumor Friday was that Molina was close to returning to the Rays, possibly on a two-year deal.

There are also two notable trade targets in Matt Wieters and Ryan Hanigan. Wieters doesn’t appear amenable to an extension with the Orioles in advance of hitting free agency in two years. Despite his disappointing offensive output to date, he’s still very highly thought of and would command a significant package. Hanigan would be a whole lot cheaper, and he’d be a solid option starting 80-90 games. He became expendable in Cincinnati with the Pena signing.

The suitors?

Boston: Might prefer a short-term fix with Christian Vazquez and 2011 first-round pick Blake Swihart on the way.

Toronto: Needs to upgrade from J.P. Arencibia.

Chicago White Sox: Neither Josh Phegley nor Tyler Flowers seems likely to become much of a regular.

Miami: Would like to find a cheap starter for a year to get Rob Brantly more seasoning.

Colorado: Made a run at Ruiz with the idea of shifting Wilin Rosario out from behind the plate.

Minnesota: Could use a veteran to pair with youngster Josmil Pinto.

Texas: The word was that the Rangers told Soto he’d be the starter to get him to sign quickly. Still, some are skeptical.

Seattle: A veteran capable of battling Mike Zunino for the job would be ideal, with Zunino returning to Triple-A if he doesn’t show he’s ready.

On the one hand, Saltalamacchia would seem to be sitting pretty as the only big-money catcher remaining. On the other, it doesn’t seem like any of those teams besides the Red Sox are in position to spend $10 million+ per year on a catcher, and the Red Sox already declined to give Salty a $14.1 million qualifying offer, which would seem to be put a cap on how high they’re willing to go.

Boston’s ideal would likely be to bring Salty back on a two-year deal in the $20 million range (which, according to reports, is about what they offered Ruiz). That seems like a realistic possibility now unless the Blue Jays or White Sox step it up. Alternatively, the Red Sox could go cheaper with Navarro to hold the fort down until one of their prospects is ready.

My guess: Salty back to Boston, Navarro to the Blue Jays (two years, $10 million), Pierzynski to the Twins (one year, $7 million), Suzuki to the White Sox (one year, $3 million) and Hanigan to the Mariners, with Wieters staying in Baltimore.

  1. uyf1950 - Nov 23, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    Saltalamacchia would be an absolute fool to sign with any team the Red Sox or anyone else for just 2 years/$20MM.

    • kjm18 - Nov 23, 2013 at 10:15 PM

      What? That would seem to be a really good deal for him. Not so much for the team that signs him.

  2. pastabelly - Nov 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    Salty might get three years from Texas and Navarro could end up in Boston.

  3. matt20hew - Nov 23, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Reblogged this on Today's News.

  4. keltictim - Nov 23, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    Okay so if I was Ben cherrington this is what I might offer salty 2 years 24 mil with a club option for 15 mil but salty can refuse the 3rd year. Why you ask? Well the first year you begin to get a clearer picture of your prospects, the second year you start to platoon with your best prospect. If he’s not working out you extend salty, or take another free agent or trade, that gives you your best options without committing long term. Why would salty take that you ask (probably sarcastically)? He didn’t have a spectacular season by any standards. I believe, and I’m sure he does as well, that his ceiling is higher than what he’s played too so far. He takes the two years to further develop his game both offensively and defensively. Above average catchers do not grow on trees, if he spends two years getting better in a place he knows and is comfortable in then his next contract will be closer to, if not higher than what Brian McCann just stole from the Yankees. Yes he will be 30 and as the previous post pointed out that’s when catchers start to decline but he could still get a very generous contract. I’d start the talk at 2/24 and go up to 2/27. That would make sense to both team and player, which is why it won’t happen.

    • quintjs - Nov 24, 2013 at 5:26 AM

      If the Red Sox were prepared to go to 2/27 – they would have offered Salty a qualifying offer because the QO would be a better deal (1/14). I do not believe the Yankees signing McCann changes the Red Sox plan because the Yankees signing McCann was hardly a surprise. A team with lots of money and no catching signs the best free agent catcher.. shocking..

      I think the Red Sox have been planning to move on from Salty after this year for about a year (signing Ross to a 2 year deal last year makes a transition from Salty to one of the prospects better. I am sure they would have loved to have seen more from Lavarnway to make this move easier, but Ross with a partner isn’t a terrible outcome.

      As for Salty not having a spectacular season.. it wasn’t off the charts but fangraphs has a 3.6 WAR (10th in MLB of catchers with 200+ PA) and with a .372 BABIP – it is likely the best season Satly is going to have (another reason not to offer him lots of money). Realistically Salty is probably worth 2years/ 18m. If I were the Red Sox I would probably offer him that, if he accepts great, otherwise move on. If you had to overpay, I would rather overpay Drew./ Napoli/ Beltran than Salty.

  5. sincitybonobo - Nov 23, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    The Jays expected much more from Arencibia. Cleveland looks like they picked Toronto’s pocket on Yan Gomes.

    Arecibia has nearly 1400 MLB plate appearances and regressed to a .227 OBP last year.

    If I were a GM, I wouldn’t sink a ton of money into a top offensive catcher. At the same time, I wouldn’t expect too much offensively from that position. Invest elsewhere. Even legendary catchers tend to fall off a cliff offensively after their age 32 seasons. Due to the rigorous nature of the position, they are an asset that depreciates quicker than most others.

    The Twins are finally moving Mauer permanently and I would do the same to Posey.

    • ptfu - Nov 24, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      I saw that .227 OBP and assumed it was a typo. So I looked up JPA’s numbers, and good grief. Sure he’s got some pop but that OBP is disastrous.

      More statistical fun: JPA’s career OBP is now .258 and his SLG is .408. So his career OPS is .666. To hell with JPA, the Jays need a new catcher.

  6. dumbassgreg - Nov 24, 2013 at 1:53 AM

    Toronto made mistake kept wrong catcher should have traded arencibia . rumor Toronto likes hanigan may try to trade for him and Brandon Phillips.

    • jm91rs - Nov 24, 2013 at 6:54 AM

      As a reds fan I’m sure I speak for the team when I say you can have ryan hannigan for a couple of baseballs. I’ve appreciated his time here but he’s been blocking mesoraco’s chance to prove what he can do (not sure if that’s good or bad but it’s time to find out). I also offer my condolences in regards to your crack addicted mayor. We once had a crazy mayor who bought prostitutes with personal checks. Ever heard of him? Jerry springer? Yep, we’re super proud.

  7. proudlycanadian - Nov 24, 2013 at 6:55 AM

    Don’t do it, after all, Salty’s best days are likely behind him.

  8. slaugin - Nov 24, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    I really don’t want AJ, or any of the other options in FA. If the Sox have to go 4 years for Salty I’d be ok with it as long as they front load the contract so they can trade him if/when one of the 2 prospects are ready for the big leagues.

  9. 18thstreet - Nov 24, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Seems pretty clear to me that the Red Sox should have given Salty a qualified offer (whatever it’s called). One year, $14 million would be just fine – and that’s the worst-case scenario. I’d be shocked if he didn’t wind up somewhere else for 3 years, $30 million, and the Sox won’t get a draft pick out of it.

    Not offering the QO counts as a blunder.

  10. keltictim - Nov 24, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Quintjs I’m not real big into those saber numbers, well any saber metric numbers really. I know what my eyes saw. Last season he was a slightly above average catcher who choked in then post season hard. Why would they offer him a qualifying offer when 2/21 which I think was my original proposal will probably be enough for the reasons I stated. I said 2/27 would be my ceiling and is probably get there thru a lot of incentives. I won’t mind seeing him leave town and let Ross be the bridge to the future which it looks like is their plans anyways.

  11. gloccamorra - Nov 24, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    Ah, why keep Salty when Henry Blanco and Yorvit Torrealba are available?

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